Six Bollywood Movies to See Before Visiting India

by Akhil Kalepu

Dec 8, 2015

© Ryan | Flickr


They’re long, overacted and not particularly realistic, but Bollywood films might be one of the most colorful aspects of Indian culture. Here are six modern classics to get a taste of masala cinema.




Released: 2012

Starring: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’Cruz

Set in 1970s India, Barfi! follows Murphy Johnson (Kapoor), a deaf-mute with a sweet and charming spirit. Searching for his kidnapped love (Chopra), Barfi gets help from an old flame (D’Cruz) who still has feelings for him.



Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Released: 2011

Starring: Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol, Farhan Akhtar

Translating to “you won’t get another life,” this coming-of-age drama is about three inseparable friends on a bachelor party in Spain. Watching the years slip away, the buddies decide to make this trip one to remember before moving on to the next stage in their lives.




Released: 2004

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Gayatri Joshi, Kishori Balal

This bona-fide modern classic stars Shah Rukh Khan as a NASA project manager who must return to his homeland after the death of his parents. Taking place in a rural village, Swades examines the contrast of development and globalization with traditional life in India.




Released: 1998

Starring: J.D. Chakravarthy, Manoj Bajpai, Urmila Matondkar, Shefali Shah

A surprise hit, Satya was produced with just 20 million rupees, yet pioneered the genre of Mumbai noir, depicting the darker side of Bollywood through India’s criminal underworld.




Released: 2001

Starring: Aamir Khan, Gracy Sigh, Rachel Shelley

Set during the height of the British Raj in the late 1800s, this Oscar nominee depicts a small village in Gujurat, unable to pay their high taxes due to a drought. The ruling British challenge the village to a then-foreign game of cricket, wagering three years of lagaan for the victor.



Om Shanti Om

Released: 2007

Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone

Several films have tried to depict the Indian film industry, but none were as good as Om Shanti Om, a star-studded Bollywood spectacle with more than 40 cameos by the country’s biggest actors.



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